Professor David Engerman: ‘Americans in particular view "Cold War culture" as repressive - and don't really have much understanding of soviet life. Yet both societies shared responsibility for the Cold War’
On October 17-19, 2013 the international conference ‘Social and Human Sciences on Both Sides of the “Iron Curtain”’ organized by the HSE Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities is being held in Moscow.
This international conference is intended to put together research findings on the history of social and human sciences in the capitalist West and the socialist East during the second half of the 20th century. The HSE news service talked to two participants about the conference about their expectations and suggestions for reading.
David Engerman, Professor of History at Brandeis University (USA) is delivering a paper ‘A Mecca for Economists and Planners’: Pilgrimages to Nehruvian India at the second plenary session. He told the news service about a new western approach to understanding soviet life during the Cold War.
David Engerman :
— It's fascinating to understand how much our predecessors knew about their own time - we like to think of ourselves as superior, yet earlier social scientists had a keener understanding of their societies than we often think. This is especially true of our views of Soviet scholars. Westerners at the time - and many since - view Soviet scholars as bland parrots of party lines. But for as much outside pressures as they faced, soviet scholars were effective expressing complex ideas using the limited ideological language available to them in publications.
I think it's important for youth today to move past pure blame and discrediting of the Cold War. Americans in particular view "Cold War culture" as repressive - and don't really have much understanding of soviet life. Yet both societies shared responsibility for the Cold War, which emerged not just from the differences between the US and the USSR but also from some of their commonalities.’
Irina Morozova, from Humboldt University of Berlin who will speak in the Cold War historiographies section about ‘Central Asian intertwine of nationality, religion and democracy in the ‘hall of mirrors’ of Western and Soviet historiographies (1950-1980)’ says that the thing that fascinates her most in this area is the ‘comparative history of decolonisation in Asia and the Orient and the impact of global geopolitics on the deconstruction of socialism’. She recommended the following books for anyone interested in the topic of her talk;
P. van de Veer, Imperial Encounters. Religion and Modernity in India and Britain (Princeton and Oxford 2001).
M. Werner, B. Zimmermann, ‘Beyond Comparison: Histoire croisee and the Challenge of Reflexivity’, History and Theory 45 (2006) 30-50
D.F. Eickelman and J. Piscatori, Muslim Politics (Princeton 1996)
This is the first time Irina has taken part in an HSE conference and she hopes to develop other forms of cooperation with colleagues in the field.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service
Nikolai Pavlenko, a shadow entrepreneur and creator of a successful business in Stalin’s USSR, was executed by firing squad in 1955. Running a successful commercial enterprise right under the dictator’s nose in a strictly planned economy was a striking but not so uncommon case in the Soviet Union at the time, according to HSE professor Oleg Khlevniuk who made a number of unexpected findings having studied newly accessible archival documents. Below, IQ.HSE offers a summary of what his study reveals.
Mental health disorders are among the leading worldwide causes of disease and long-term disability. This issue has a long and painful history of gradual de-stigmatization of patients, coinciding with humanization of therapeutic approaches. What are the current trends in Russia regarding this issue and in what ways is it similar to and different from Western countries? IQ.HSE provides an overview of this problem based on research carried out by Svetlana Kolpakova.
Medieval horror, vampires, sorcerers, mysterious monks and the rising dead, alongside real historical figures and stories about the Russian Civil War wrapped in the aura of mysticism – this is perhaps the shortest formula for Daurian Gothic. Alexei Mikhalev, Doctor of Political Science, discusses this phenomenon and its evolution.
The International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and its Consequences at HSE University held a Graduate Student Seminar in Soviet History together with Sciences Po (France) on June 17 – 18, 2019. HSE News Service spoke with participants and instructors of the seminar, which examinedthe impact of WWII on the Soviet Union and surrounding regions, as well as aspects of the Soviet system from Stalin up to the 1980s.
On June 24-25, HSE University held the international academic conference, ‘The 1990s: A Social History of Russia’ organized by International Center for the History and Sociology of World World War II and its Consequences, the Boris Yeltsin Center, the Egor Gaider Foundation, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. HSE News Service spoke with Roberto Rabbia, one of the international participants, about how he became interested in Soviet history, why he reads Soviet newspapers, and what he has learned from his research.
Martin Beisswenger has been a professor in HSE’s School of History since 2013. Recently, HSE News Service sat down with him to learn about his impressions of Moscow, his research projects, the course he is currently teaching and more.
Almost 40 teams took part in the ‘Through the pages of Basmania’ quest, organized by the Higher School of Economics as part of an annual citywide event, Library Night. Event participants also staged passages from Romeo and Juliet and attended lectures about theatre at HSE library.
Today, we have moved from the political concept of panem et circenses (bread and circuses) to keep the masses happy to the dangers of culture driven by spectacle and politics driven by algorithms. Post-war theoreticians of the crowd had personal experience of fascism, and today contemporary artists are attempting to address similar problems. During the XX April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, scheduled this year for April 9-12 at the Higher School of Economics, Sarah Wilson, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, will explore some of these issues in her presentation 'Culture and Emigration, Crowds and Power.'
Legally, the 1917 revolution solved the gender issue in the Russian academic community. The doors to the profession opened for women, but a ‘glass ceiling’ remained. Ekaterina Streltsova and Evgenia Dolgova studied who it affected and why. This study is the first to present a socio-demographic analysis of the female academic community in Moscow and Leningrad during the early Soviet era.
Dr Anna Whittington is currently a Research Fellow at The International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences through the end of August 2019. She recently spoke with the HSE News Service about her work on changes in Soviet-era language policy, her thoughts on life in Moscow and how the city has changed, and much more.